Norm Stewart immortalized with statue outside Mizzou Arena Friday

The Missouri basketball legend coached the men’s team for 32 years.

There was an overwhelming sense of reverence at Mizzou Arena on Friday afternoon.

While many fans held their focus on Missouri men’s basketball’s season opener and the potential of a new season ahead, it was also a day to reflect and pay homage to Missouri basketball’s past.

On a brisk, sunny November afternoon, legendary former head coach Norm Stewart was honored with the unveiling of a bronze statue at a ceremony at Walsworth Plaza outside of Mizzou Arena.

Hundreds of fans surrounded a stage adjacent to the statue. Reserved seating for family and friends provided an intimate experience for Stewart’s special day.

Also in attendance were former players and many important university representatives. Stewart beamed with pride as many paid tribute to the coach whose legacy shaped Missouri basketball.

John Rooney, radio voice of the St. Louis Cardinals, hosted the event. Former Missouri basketball star Doug Smith and former Georgia Tech head coach Bobby Cremins also spoke at the event, along with MU athletic director Jim Sterk and Chancellor Alexander Cartwright.

Stewart, a Missouri alum who played basketball and baseball for the Tigers in the 1950s, led his his alma mater to a 634-333 record during his 32-year run as head coach of the men’s basketball team from 1967-99.

His teams recorded an impressive eight regular-season conference championships and six conference tournament championships and reached the NCAA tournament 16 times.

The statue was created by St. Louis sculptor Harry Weber, who worked on the statue of former Missouri football coach Don Faurot that currently stands outside of Memorial Stadium.

“The only request I had from him was to give him some hair,” Weber joked at the event.

Stewart removed a dark sheet covering the statue on a stage alongside his wife, Virginia, and Weber. Though a man of few words, one could still sense his feeling of pride that prevailed.

“It’s in my image,” Stewart said. “But the statue represents all of the 112 years of Missouri basketball.”

The statue isn’t Stewart’s first tribute from the university. The court inside Mizzou Arena is named in Stewart’s honor, while his No. 22 jersey from his playing days hangs from the rafters.

“I want the fans, their children and their grandchildren to come to games, see the statue and say ‘I put it there,’” Stewart said. “Because you really did.”

Edited by Joe Noser | jnoser@themaneater.com

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